COLUMBIA, SC — Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday criticized former President Donald Trump for being too friendly towards China during his term, while also warning that weak support for Ukraine would “only encourage” China to invade Taiwan.
Haley, a Republican presidential candidate running against Trump, said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that Trump was “focused almost exclusively” on the U.S.-China trade relationship, but ultimately “did too little on the rest of the Chinese threat “.
In particular, Haley noted Trump’s failure to rally US allies “against the Chinese threat” and that he had congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China.
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“That sends the wrong message to the world,” Haley said. “Chinese communism must be condemned, never congratulated.”
Haley’s remarks, promoted by her presidential campaign as “an important foreign policy speech,” came a week and a half after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Xi in Beijing. Blinken said they had agreed to “stabilize” badly deteriorated ties between the US and China, but there was little indication that either country was willing to move from positions on issues such as trade, Taiwan, China’s human rights record and Hong Kong, China’s military assertiveness in the South China Sea and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Haley did note that Trump imposed tariffs and other trade restrictions on the superpower, saying he “deserves credit for turning this bipartisan consensus on its head.” But she added, “Having a clear eye just isn’t enough.”
As Trump remains the clear front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, his rivals are increasingly lashing out at him. On Tuesday, New Hampshire, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that unlike Trump, he was “actually going to build the wall,” a reference to Trump’s 2016 signature issue that he failed to get through his first term.
Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations for two years, said President Joe Biden has been “much worse” when it comes to dealing with threats she believes China poses to America’s economic, homeland and military security. She also said China’s military buildup and aggression towards Taiwan shows that the nation is “preparing its people for war,” a conflict she says would attract the US and other global partners if left unchecked.
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“We must act now to keep the peace and prevent war,” she said. “And we need a leader who will rally our people to face this threat on every front. … Communist China is an enemy. It is the most dangerous foreign threat we have faced since World War II.”
In a question-and-answer session with reporters earlier Tuesday, Haley was asked about comments made by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a fellow Republican presidential candidate, who said, “What is a Uygher?” in response to a question from radio host Hugh Hewitt about the predominantly Muslim group accused of repression by China.
Haley, who did not name Suarez in her response, called the allegations of sexual abuse and religious discrimination against the Uyghurs a potential “genocide,” adding, “The fact that the whole world is ignoring it is shameful.”
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For his part, Suarez later tweeted that he is “well aware of the suffering of China’s Uighurs” but “just didn’t recognize the statement.”
In her speech, Haley also called Biden “much too slow and weak in helping Ukraine,” and warned that failing to send enough military equipment to stop the Russian invasion there “could only encourage China to move to Taiwan as soon as possible.” to invade”. further international conflict.
“The events of the past weekend show how weak and shaky the Russian leadership is,” Haley said, referring to the short-lived weekend uprising of mercenaries who briefly took over a Russian military headquarters. “Make no mistake: China is following the war with Ukraine with great interest.”
Some of Haley’s Republican rivals, including Trump and DeSantis, have drawn criticism for their own comments about Ukraine. Both Trump and DeSantis have said that defending Ukraine is not a national security priority for the US. DeSantis also had to reverse his characterization of the Russian war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute”.
Last month, Biden approved a new package of military aid for Ukraine totaling $300 million, including additional ammunition for drones and a range of other weapons. In total, the US has pledged more than $37.6 billion in arms and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on February 24, 2022.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at
(TagsToTranslate)2024 US Presidential Election